Sharing A-bomb experience with granddaughter in front of sister’s A-bombed blouse on display in Peace Memorial Museum

by Yusuke Egawa, Staff Writer

On April 25, Hisao Omoto, 88, a resident of the city of Hatsukaichi, and his granddaughter, Rihoko Sakamoto, 14, a third-year student at Seishin Junior High School who lives in the city of Okayama, visited the main building of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, located in Naka Ward, which reopened after undergoing extensive renovations. His sister’s blouse, which was exposed to the atomic bombing, is now on display in the museum. Rihoko, who was seeing the blouse for the first time, said that such a tragic event must never be repeated and she is considering how to help hand down the memories of the war to younger generations.

Toshiko Omoto, then 17, was wearing the blouse while on Hijiyama Bridge, located about 1.7 kilometers from the hypocenter. She had been mobilized to help tear down houses to create a fire lane in the event of air raids. In front of this “silent witness,” Mr. Omoto told his granddaughter that his mother had fashioned the blouse from his father’s yukata (a light summer kimono), and that they had searched for Toshiko in the charred city, and found her, but then she passed away in great pain two months later. Rihoko nodded as he spoke, the story of the blouse becoming seared into her memory.

Mr. Omoto said that he would like young people to deepen their understanding of what happened on August 6, 1945. His wish brought Rihoko to visit the museum for the first time on the day it reopened, thinking that she could learn about peace in a deeper way if she listened to her grandfather’s story and saw real artifacts from the bombing. After finishing their tour of the exhibits in the museum, she said that she now understood the misery of that time and that the artifacts shown in the exhibits are important for conveying memories of the atomic bombing.

Rihoko will visit the museum again in October in connection with a school activity. She said, “I want to share what I heard from my grandfather to my friends before then and do what I can to somehow help create a world free of nuclear weapons and war.”

(Originally published on April 26, 2019)